Gambling is any game where you stake something of value on a random event in the hope of winning a prize. It’s most often associated with casinos, but can also happen in other places, such as churches, sporting events and even gas stations. The act of gambling can lead to problems if you feel you need to do it compulsively. It can damage your health and relationships, cause financial difficulties, harm your work or studies and even lead to suicide.

The reasons people gamble are complex. Many gamble to alleviate unpleasant feelings or escape boredom, while others are influenced by the excitement of possible big wins. Some people are predisposed to risk-taking behaviour due to genetics or the way their brain is wired. Other factors can include mood disorders like depression, stress and anxiety which may trigger or be made worse by gambling. It’s important to see a doctor when you are struggling with this, as these symptoms can be treated and can help you manage your problem.

Signs that you might have a problem with gambling include – lying to family and friends about your behaviour, feeling the need to hide your activity, relying on other people to fund your gambling or replacing money you’ve lost, losing control of your spending and increasing your bet size in an attempt to win back your losses. Personality traits and coexisting mental health conditions can also make gambling more problematic, including impulsivity, mood swings and difficulty coping with daily life stressors.